Losing your dog is never easy but being prepared can help you to cope and get through the process.
It’s never easy saying goodbye to your loyal companion for the last time. And if your dog’s getting closer to its final days you might be worried about what happens next.
However, there are steps you can take to help you prepare for what’s coming.
Thinking about what you’d like to happen at the end of your dog’s life can help you to plan and give them the send-off they deserve.
Find out what changes you can expect as your dog gets older or their illness progresses
Your vet will be able to assess if your dog is suffering and whether it’s time to end treatment and discuss end of life options
You’ll need to make some decisions about how and where you’d like them to spend their last moments. Also, decide who’ll be there to say goodbye
Enjoy time together, spoil your pup and gather their favourite toys. Do what they love to do, even if it’s just curling up on the sofa with you
Part of the grieving process is giving your dog permission to go. Take time to quietly and calmly say goodbye, thanking them for your time together
If your dog’s very unwell or reaching the end of its life, your vet will discuss options with you about what happens next.
When making the decision it’s important to think about what’s best for your dog.
One option is for your dog to pass away without medical intervention at home, however, unless this happens unexpectedly, your vet may not recommend this.
Although dying at home can mean your dog’s in familiar surroundings, it may also mean added discomfort if they’re not given the necessary pain relief or palliative care they need.
Another option to enable your dog to pass away at home is for a vet to come to your house to administer a euthanasia injection.
Your local veterinary surgery might not offer this service so you may need to use a private or specialist mobile vet, but it’s worth finding out if this is an option for you.
Putting your dog to sleep at home is likely to cost more than in the vet's surgery.
The cost for dog euthanasia at home can cost you around £400  but it depends on the size of your dog, the service you use, and if it’s on the weekend or out of hours.
Depending on whether your dog is suffering, your vet might either advise euthanasia happens straightaway or you may be able to make an appointment on another day.
The reception team will try to arrange this for a quiet time when you won’t be interrupted or rushed.
You’ll normally need to sign a consent form and the surgery will usually discuss options for cremation and payment before your appointment.
The cost for your dog to be put to sleep at the vets can cost from around £80 to £200 , but prices will vary depending on the practice.
You may decide for your dog to die at home or their death may be sudden and the decision is taken out of your hands.
If you’ve chosen for your dog to die in familiar surroundings, you’ll have time to prepare.
Get advice from your vet on any pain relief or medication that might be needed and create an environment that’s calm and relaxing.
Make your dog as comfortable as possible and stay close by so they know you’re there.
Once your dog passes away, you should contact your local vet, pet crematorium or pet cemetery as soon as possible.
You and your family know your dog better than anyone else and you’ll notice signs that they’re not experiencing the quality of life they deserve.
A rapid decline in health and persistent symptoms like loss of appetite, breathing difficulties, or signs of pain or distress, are all indications that you should consider end of life options.
Your vet will be able to help you decide and will make some recommendations.
If the chance of recovery is slim or not possible, your vet may advise that the kindest option is to put your dog to sleep, also known as euthanising.
Unless it’s needed urgently or your dog’s suffering unnecessarily, your vet might agree this can be done in a few days and arrange a quiet time when you and your dog can come in.
Some vets may also be able to do a home visit for euthanasia.
If your dog’s been taken in for surgery, the vet might discover the condition is inoperable and suggest that euthanasia takes place then.
If they’re already under anaesthetic, it can be kinder to do this without waking them.
The euthanasia process is quick and painless - your dog will be injected with an overdose of anaesthetic and will pass away peacefully in a couple of minutes.
This is a very personal choice, so whether you stay will be entirely up to you.
The veterinary staff will understand completely if you choose not to be there and will make sure your dog’s last moments are calm, comfortable and dignified.
If you decide to remain with your dog while they’re put to sleep, it’s best to try and keep as calm as possible to help your dog stay relaxed.
Keeping your dog company can give them extra reassurance, which can comfort you both.
Once your dog has passed away, you’ll usually be given the opportunity to be alone with them for a few minutes.
If you’re planning to leave your dog with a boarding kennel or dog minder, it’s a good idea to check their processes and terms and conditions first.
Before leaving your dog, agree on what you’d like to happen if there was an emergency or if your pup was to become seriously ill while you’re away.
If your dog dies in their care, your kennel or dog minder should try to contact you as soon as possible to let you know and ask what you’d like to happen next.
If you’re not nearby, it’s likely they’ll contact their local appointed veterinary practice. The dog will either be collected by them.
Once you return, you can then decide what next steps you’d like to take.
Once your dog passes away, you can speak to your vet about any keepsakes you’d like to take with you, like their collar, a clipping of fur, or a paw print.
The options you may be given afterwards include:
You may be allowed to take your dog home to be buried in your private garden or on land you own, but there are practicalities to be considered.
For example, you’ll need to check for underground pipes or cables, the area can’t be at risk of flooding, plus it requires digging a four-foot deep hole.
You might be able to have your dog buried in a pet cemetery in a designated plot. Burials can cost several hundred pounds depending on whether you want a service or memorial.
Registered pet cemeteries aren’t widely available in the UK, but you can find out where your nearest one is at appcc.org.uk.
The cheapest option is communal cremation where your dog is cremated with other dogs, so their ashes will be mixed. The cost will depend on your dog’s size but can range from between £50 to £150 .
This option allows your dog to be cremated separately and for you to receive their individual ashes. The price will depend on the size of your dog, but it typically starts from around £100.
This varies widely between insurance companies, so it will depend on your policy and the type of cover you take out.
Your policy may include cover for your dog’s death from illness or injury.
This may cover what you paid for your dog up to a limit, if it dies or is put to sleep because of an illness or injury. But it usually only applies up until your dog reaches a certain age.
Some pet insurance policies will cover the cost of cremation or euthanasia, or you can buy this as a policy add-on, but there’s often a cover limit of around £100 to £300.
Once your dog passes away, make sure you contact your insurer to cancel your policy.